The Western Australian government has opened its $10 million Renewable Hydrogen Fund to applications, as the state seeks to seize the opportunity to expand its resources heavy economy into the export of clean fuels.
Under the fund, the WA government will provide grants of between $300,000 and up to $3 million for projects to undertake feasibility studies, demonstration projects or for new capital works projects. Up to $7 million of the funds will be reserved for projects located in regional Western Australia.
An additional $1 million of the funds will be set aside for use by the Western Australian Government’s own Renewable Hydrogen Unit, which has been tasked with examining the administration and regulatory reforms that may be required to support the growth of a renewable hydrogen industry in the state.
The fund has identified four priority areas, which include the production of renewable hydrogen for export, the use of hydrogen in regional areas (particularly in mining operations), the blending of hydrogen in mains gas supplies and the use of hydrogen as a transport fuel.
“Renewable hydrogen could be the next big job-creating industry for Western Australia, utilising our world-leading renewable energy resources to produce, use and provide energy to our international partners,” WA regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan said.
“This fund will help to attract major private sector investment to WA to drive forward the emerging renewable hydrogen industry.”
“The fund will favour those projects that create new jobs, skills and training opportunities – particularly in regional WA.”
“Priority will be given to applications that fall within WA’s four strategic focus areas for investment and demonstrate progress towards meeting the goals identified in the Strategy: export, use of renewable hydrogen in remote applications, blending in the gas network and use in transport,” MacTiernan added.
The fund has been developed as part of the Western Australian government’s hydrogen strategy, that was unveiled in July. The strategy seeks to expand the use of hydrogen as a clean source of storable energy that can be used for homes, businesses and transport.
The WA Government has previously partnered with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support the development of ATCO’s $3.3 million clean energy innovation hub, that will serve as an example of how hydrogen production and storage can be paired with other clean energy technologies, like rooftop solar, to provide a reliable and zero-emissions supply of energy to households and businesses.
ARENA has continued to see the production of green hydrogen as a core priority for further support through grant funding, including green hydrogen research, development and demonstration in the latest update to its investment plan.
“We need to launch a hydrogen industry to create opportunities across the domestic economy and to help position Australia to become a major renewable energy superpower through exporting hydrogen,” ARENA CEO Darren Miller said at the time.
The vast potential for Australia to emerge as a leader in a global market for renewable hydrogen was highlighted by a briefing from researchers at the CSIRO, the ANU and Monash University, that described Australia’s potential to dominate a future hydrogen export market potentially worth tens of billions of dollars.
Australia, particularly sun-rich portions of western Australia, is well placed to emerge as a leading supplier of clean energy exports into a growing Asian market for energy, leveraging Australia’s proximity to the region and an ability to access to some of the world’s best renewable energy resources.